Online Casino Beginners Guide

Since its inception several years ago, the online gaming industry has gone

from strength to strength and attracts thousands of players all over the world

every day. Although some are professional and/or regular players, many are

visiting casino sites for the first time and are unsure of what to look out for.

With so many casinos to choose from it is important to do a bit of research

first. There are some wonderful operators out there who operate a fair and honest

business, but as with any industry, there are others who are less than

reputable. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are new to online

casinos and games.

What Software does the casino use?

Once you begin visiting a number of online casinos, you will start to see the

names of particular software providers appearing over and over. There are

currently five main players in the online casino software market – Microgaming,

RealTime Gaming, Wagerlogic (also known as Cryptologic) and Playtech. Any casino

that uses these brands of software to power their games is usually of a certain

standard. The software companies themselves also do not want to be associated

with unreliable and shonky casinos, so often go to great lengths to ensure the

legitimacy of a casino before branding them with their software. If the software

the casino is using is unfamiliar, do some more research and ask questions

before registering your details.

What Kind of Support does the Casino Offer?

Any casino worth their weight will provide excellent 24/7 support to their

customers. This might be in the form of either phone or email support and there

may even be a link to Frequently Asked Questions on their site. It is very

important that you feel confident with the level of support you are going to

receive as there will be nothing more frustrating than waiting for a cheque to

arrive in the mail or your bank account and not having a direct way of following

up your inquiry.

What are the Terms and Conditions of the Casino?

Every casino that you visit is bound by law to publish their Terms and

Conditions clearly on their site. It is worth taking the time to read these

before you start playing as you will by

bound by them if a dispute between yourself and the casino is raised. Privacy is

probably the most important clause players are interested in and its always good

to know if the casino intends to keep your details secure, or whether they might

be made available to a third party (e.g.: their sponsors or advertisers).

What about security?

The Internet is a particularly hazardous place when it comes to the misuse and

abuse of people’s personal and financial information. Reputable casinos will

make very clear what security measures they have in place and what security

software they use. This information will usually be listed in the Terms and

Conditions or Terms of Use section. Bear in mind that casinos are not foolproof

but they do want to secure your long-term business and will go to great lengths

to get the best and latest in security software.

How do I deposit money and get paid should I

win?

In the last few years many banks and credit card providers have made the

decision not to process financial transactions made via online casinos. There

are however a number of other effective methods, many of which are extremely

reliable and secure. These mainly consist of third party ‘brokers’ who keep your

financial details secure and handle all your transactions both in and out of the

account. A few of the more popular providers include Netteller, Firepay and

Paypal. All you need to do is register your personal and financial details along

with a user name and password in order to access you account.

Some casinos will also pay any winnings direct to your bank savings account or

via a cheque in the mail.

It is also a good idea to be clear on the turnaround times for payouts. Some

casinos are very reliable and pay quickly, but there are some horror stories of

players waiting months for payments, which is obviously very frustrating.

I’ve heard about online forums. What are they

and how can they help?

One of the great things about the Internet is that it is very easy to connect

with like-minded people and swap both ideas and information. You’ll find if you

look around, there are some fantastic player organizations and online forums

where regular online casino players meet. Many of these sites will monitor which

casinos are operating fairly, while they may also contain a blacklist of which

ones to avoid. You will also find lots of useful tips and strategies discussed

which may be use. Keep in mind that most players have a favorite game they like

to play, which means that the player organizations are usually devoted to a

particular type of online game – for example, slots, blackjack or poker. Look

for the one with the types of games you want to play.

There’s so many games? How do I choose which

one?

The question of which games to play really is a very personal one but the great

thing about online casinos is the choice between literally hundreds of games.

Casino and games reviews are often a good place to start and can take the hard

work out of choosing the right casino for you.

Many casinos will also let you ‘play for free’ for a short time, so if you can

try out new games and get a feel for the ones you are unsure about. Offers to

‘play for free’ are definitely worth taking up and are widely available.

Probably the most important thing to remember with online gaming is that it is a

form of entertainment and there to be enjoyed. Take your time to look around and

work out what best suits you. Like millions of other players you’re sure to soon

find out just how much fun online gaming can be!

SMART Board – Pros and Cons of Using a Digital, Interactive Whiteboard (In the Classroom)

We used a smart board to teach with in the computer lab at school. Essentially, a SMART board turns your digital projector / LCD Projector image into an interactive whiteboard that you can write on.

The SMART Board itself is a touch-sensitive giant screen that is connected to your computer. You use your digital projector to display your computer screen onto the SMART board and the software allows you to touch and interact with your computer.

As more and more school boards and teachers are investing in data projectors, it begs the question whether SMART Boards are a good investment. After all, an intuitive touch interface plus the ability to write on digital documents (with digital ink) would help us to move beyond blackboards, flip chart paper, and overhead projectors.

Pros

  • With the SMART Board, you can control any application through the touch board. So instead of working from behind the computer keyboard, you (or your students) can be at the front of the classroom physically interacting with the display.
  • You can use any of the 4 colours of markers or the eraser to write in digital ink over applications, web pages, or moving video. The SMART board still works if you lose the pens. (There are 4 coloured pen holders and one eraser. When you lift the pen out of the slot, it selects the colour or the eraser. When you touch the screen, it uses the selected color or the eraser.)
  • Like other digital ink software applications, you can save your work into a notebook file, and you can convert handwriting into text.

Cons

  • Hard to write. The biggest disappointment with the digital ink comes from the fact that a SMART Board is a front-mounted projection screen. This means that your data projector is set up in front of the screen (like an overhead projector). Which means that when you stand in between the projector and the screen, you cast a shadow on the screen… right where you are trying to write. Sure, it was cool to interact with programs by touching the screen, but, it was hard to write notes because you were constantly blocking the image.
  • Hard to write neatly. To be perfectly honest, it was a little disappointing how our handwriting turned out on the SMART Board. Better than our experiences with the other digital pens (i.e. the i-pen), but the handwriting was still large, blocky, and messy. One of the things you have to train yourself to do is to not lean up against the SMART Board. When you write on a blackboard or white board, you typically rest the edge of your palm on the board. If you do that on a touch screen, the cursor jumps to your palm and it doesn’t work out. You have to train yourself to just write using the tip of the pen. The marker worked fine if we wanted to underline or circle key ideas, but if you wanted to edit or revise a 12 point, double-spaced Word Document, you’d have a hard time getting the control required.
  • You still have to move back and forth from the keyboard to the screen. We could start up our web browser by touching the SMART board, but when it came time to enter in the website address, we had to go back to the desk to type in the URL.
  • Expensive. The Total Cost of Ownership of a SMART Board can be prohibitive for the classroom teacher. Retail cost of a 77? (195.6cm) front-projection SMART Board Interactive whiteboard is $1399 (USD) with a grant from the SMARTer Kids Foundation of Canada. (www.SmarterKids.org)
  • You need to supply your own data projector. A new, decent projector will cost around $500 – $1000. The SMART Board is just a giant touch pad. Your need to provide your own projector to display the image onto the smart board. (Software, connection cables, and stand are included.)
  • You may want to upgrade to a wireless connection ($199 USD) to eliminate the cables and the tripping hazards in the classroom. The screen image and the SMART Board touch screen may get knocked out of alignment. This means that when you try to click a button, the mouse pointer appears a few inches to the side. You’ll have to realign your hardware which would interrupt the lesson.

Bitcoin in a Nutshell

Bitcoin has almost become a household name with ever increasing coverage in the media, and fair to say its notoriety continues to increase. So what’s all the fuss about? Bitcoin appeared around 2009 as a new form of digital currency and was develop from the off as open-source by a clever chap called Satoshi Nakamoto. We are told his true identify is ‘shrouded in mystery’ like he’s some kind of Marvel superhero, I suspect this simply means he’s a super nerd, but there’s no question, he’s certainly a pioneer…

So what’s it all about?

Bitcoin is a form of currency the same as any other, however it is not under the control of any government or financial institution. The premise is for it to be owned and managed by its own community. Bitcoin is de-centralised and managed by peer-to-peer members who all partake in new transaction activity and store previous activity in what are known as ‘block chains’. This means that a full ‘copy’ of all transactions are stored locally and used to verify, between participants, new activity, thereby preventing any one person from malforming, adding or creating fake transactions within the block chain. This ‘consensus’ approach protects the security of Bitcoin transactions.

Bitcoin works in not a dissimilar way to PayPal in that you have a digital wallet with a unique address where people can send you Bitcoins. You can simply install a wallet on your device, or you can download the full Bitcoin wallet and participate in the network as a node.

Bitcoin’s value is very much an effect of supply and demand with risky investors gambling on the highs. Currently a single Bitcoin (shown as 1.0000000) is worth £573 or $935. You can purchase Bitcoins at any of the 8 decimal places so for example 0.0100000 would cost you £5.70 and 0.1000000 would cost you £57.00, no surprise where Bitcoin got its name!

OK, where do I buy Bitcoins?

Unless you have some Bitcoins coming your way via a payment, you will need to purchase Bitcoins in your existing currency. Purchasing is all about trust as it is not regulated, however that’s sort of how eBay started out, where users trusted each other to pay for and send items, and they’ve done rather well for themselves…

The Bitcoin coal face

Bitcoin mining, as it is known, is the process of generating (and securing) Bitcoins and a small payment in the form of units of Bitcoins are paid for the time and effort your hardware is used and your level of participation. This is done via a number of methods from using your own PC’s CPU or GPU (not dissimilar to other grid based BOINC projects such as Seti @ Home) to using ASIC miners (Application Specific Integrated Circuits), these are designed for the singular purpose for which they are built, which in this case is generating Bitcoins. Unless you have significant investment to purchase powerful ASIC miners such as those from butterflylabs.com which can run at 600GH/s (Hash’s per second) you will have to look at USB ASIC Miners such as the popular BlockErupter which generate 336MH/s. Using the BlockErupters you can create your own USB hub style rig running lots of them concurrently.

The reality though, is that it may be too late in the game to make any serious money from Bitcoin mining. The complexity (Hash rate) of the Block Chain is now such that even joining and contributing to a Mining Pool, where miners work together and share the profits, will likely see more spent in electricity than in any real financial return. Also there is a maximum limit of 21 million Bitcoins and at present it is nearing 12.4 million and as more miners join, the quicker this limit will be reached. It is now more likely you will make money buying Bitcoins themselves than generating them.

The future of Bitcoin…

Bitcoin is an emerging technology, as such the price has been volatile, however recently it has started to become more stable as the community of users grows. As of this writing, Bitcoin is seeing the number of transactions reach as high as 100,000 per day. While banks and big business are yet to consider whether Bitcoin is a threat or an opportunity, there is no doubt they are beginning to sit up and take notice of this new digital currency which continues to grow its user base daily.

Interestingly our mysterious Satoshi, the inventor of Bitcoin is thought to own, depending on fluctuations, $1 billion dollars worth of Bitcoins. Don’t we all wish we had an idea like that…

ITwaffle.com Copyright © 2014 Gareth Baxendale

Hatchling Care – Tips For Raising Healthy Baby Turtles

The turtle hatchling is very cute and appealing to people, as are many baby animals. Nevertheless, it is illegal to purchase a hatchling turtle throughout the United States of America. (See U.S. Food and Drug Administration Code of Federal Regulations Title 21, Subpart D, Sec. 1240.62–Turtles intrastate and interstate requirements). There are a few exceptions to this law however, for bona fide scientific, educational, or exhibitional purposes. The primary reason for this is because the hatchling turtle is deemed to be a greater risk for Salmonella compared to adult turtles. Turtle hatchlings are most likely to be handled by children who do not necessarily practice good personal hygiene; therefore the turtles’ care must be properly and strictly observed.

To begin, you must be committed to caring for your turtle for a long time, as their lifespan is close to that of humans. If you take excellent care of them, they may even outlive you! Interested turtle keepers must first find out the species of turtle they want to keep. Not only must you provide suitable housing and the right kind of food to your pet; you must also know which species of turtle best suits your lifestyle and living conditions. There are some classes of turtle that grow extremely large, and cannot be kept as domesticated animals. Fortunately, there are a good number of turtle species that have docile personalities and grow to a manageable size as adults, making them suitable for captivity. Once you have purchased the turtle most suitable to your needs, you can move on to providing a good habitat for your pet.

Be sure to provide the turtles with a place to bask,   swim , and hide, as these are the primary daily activities of your new pet. Not only do turtles enjoy these activities, they are essential to the turtles’ overall good health. Turtle hatchlings can be best kept in plastic tubs or aquariums so you can monitor them more closely. Hatchling care requires constant temperature regulation. It is advisable to use a heater to maintain a controlled and sustained warm temperature within the area. If there are no heat or temperature-regulating devices available, place your pet’s housing in a location where they can receive abundant natural lighting.

Feeding baby turtles may be the most challenging part of your hatchlings’ care. At first, they may not even eat at all, no matter what type of food you offer them! This is just their normal behavior at this stage, so you need not worry too much. Although turtles are omnivorous, the young ones are most likely to behave as largely carnivorous animals. Hatchlings are very picky in the food that they approve of eating. Start off by feeding them small, live insects and worms. As they mature, you may find that their range of food preference also broadens. They then can be fed fruits and vegetables, or even the processed food intended for the mature turtle’s diet.

If you are keeping more than one turtle, pay extra attention to your pets, in order to be certain that each one of them maintains optimum health.

If there are children in your household, teach them that observing good personal hygiene is a vital part of their pet hatchlings’ care. Turtles have proven to be one of the best animals to keep, and once you get into the rhythm of excellent, responsible care for your hatchlings, you’ll be a happy and satisfied turtle owner for years!

Be All That You Can Be: The Company Persona and Language Alignment

It’s not just CEOs and corporate spokespeople who need effective language to be the message. The most successful advertising taglines are not seen as slogans for a product. They are the product. From M&M’s “melts in your mouth, not in your hand” to “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin” bathroom tissue, from the “plop, plop, fizz, fizz” of Alka-Seltzer to “Fly the friendly skies of United,” there is no light space between the product and its marketing. Words that work reflect “not only the soul of the brand, but the company itself and its reason for being in business,” according to Publicis worldwide executive creative director David Droga.

In the same vein, advertising experts identify a common quality among the most popular and long-lasting corporate icons: Rather than selling for their companies, these characters personify them. Ronald McDonald, the Marlboro Man, Betty Crocker, the Energizer Bunny — they aren’t shills trying to talk us into buying a Big Mac, a pack of smokes, a box of cake mix, a package of batteries; they don’t even personalize the product. Just like the most celebrated slogans, they are the product.

Walk through any bookstore and you’ll find dozens of books about the marketing and branding efforts of corporate America. The process of corporate communication has been thinly sliced and diced over and over, but what you won’t find is a book about the one truly essential characteristic in our twenty-first-century world: the company persona and how words that work are used to create and sustain it.

The company persona is the sum of the corporate leadership, the corporate ethos, the products and services offered, interaction with the customer, and, most importantly, the language that ties it all together. A majority of large companies do not have a company persona, but those that do benefit significantly. Ben & Jerry’s attracts customers in part because of the funky names they gave to the conventional (and unconventional) flavors they offer, but the positive relationship between corporate management and their employees also plays a role, even after Ben and Jerry sold the company. McDonald’s in the 1970s and Starbucks over the past decade became an integral part of the American culture as much for the lifestyle they reflected as the food and beverages they offered, but the in-store lexicon helped by setting them apart from their competition. (Did any customers ever call the person who served them a cup of coffee a “barista” before Starbucks made the term popular?) Language is never the sole determinant in creating a company persona, but you’ll find words that work associated with all companies that have one.

And when the message, messenger, and recipient are all on the same page, I call this rare phenomenon “language alignment,” and it happens far less frequently than you might expect. In fact, virtually all of the companies that have hired my firm for communication guidance have found themselves linguistically unaligned.

This manifests itself in two ways. First, in service-oriented businesses, the sales force is too often selling with a different language than the marketing people are using. There’s nothing wrong with individualizing the sales approach to each customer, but when you have your sales force promoting a message that has no similarity with the advertising campaign, it undermines both efforts. The language in the ads and promotions must match the language on the street, in the shop, and on the floor. For example, Boost Mobile, which caters to an inner city youth demographic, uses the slogan “Where you at?” Not grammatically (or politically) correct — but it’s the language of their consumer.

And second, corporations with multiple products in the same space too often allow the language of those products to blur and bleed into each other. Procter & Gamble may sell a hundred different items, but even though each one fills a different need, a different space, and/or a different category, it is perfectly fine for them to share similar language. You can use some of the same verbiage to sell soap as you would to sell towels, because no consumer will confuse the products and what they do.

Not so for a company that is in a single line of work, say selling cars or selling beer, where companies use the exact same adjectives to describe very different products. In this instance, achieving linguistic alignment requires a much more disciplined linguistic segmentation. It is almost always a more effective sales strategy to divvy up the appropriate adjectives and create a unique lexicon for each individual brand.

An example of a major corporation that has confronted both of these challenges and still managed to achieve linguistic alignment, even as they are laying off thousands of workers, is the Ford Motor Company — which manages a surprisingly diverse group of brands ranging from Mazda to Aston Martin. The Ford corporate leadership recognized that it was impossible to separate the Ford name, corporate history, heritage, and range of vehicles — so why bother. They came as a package. Sure, Ford maintains individual brand identity, through national and local ad campaigns and by creating and maintaining a separate image and language for each brand. For example, “uniquely sensual styling” certainly applies when one is talking about a Jaguar S Type, but would probably not be pertinent for a Ford F 250 pickup truck. But the fact that the CEO carries the Ford name communicates continuity to the company’s customers, and Bill Ford sitting in front of an assembly line talking about leadership and innovation in all of Ford’s vehicles effectively puts all the individual brands into alignment.

The words he uses — “innovation,” “driven,” “re-committed,” “dramatically,” “dedicated” — represent the simplicity and brevity of effective communications, and they are wrapped around the CEO who is the fourth-generation Ford to lead the company — hence credibility. The cars are the message, Bill Ford is the messenger, the language is dead-on, and Ford is weathering the American automotive crisis far better than its larger rival General Motors. Again, the language of Ford isn’t the only driver of corporate image and sales — but it certainly is a factor.

In fact, the brand-building campaign was so successful that GM jumped on board. But Ford quickly took it a step further. In early 2006, they began to leverage their ownership of Volvo (I wonder how many readers did not know that Ford bought Volvo in 1999 and purchased Jaguar a decade earlier) to communicate a corporate-wide commitment to automotive safety, across all of its individual brands and vehicles. Volvo is one of the most respected cars on the road today, and aligning all of Ford behind an industry leader is a very smart strategy indeed.

So what about the competition?

General Motors, once the automotive powerhouse of the world, has an equally diverse product line and arguably a richer history of technology and innovation, but their public message of cutbacks, buy-backs, and layoffs was designed to appeal to Wall Street, not Main Street, and it crushed new car sales. At the time of this writing, GM is suffering through record losses, record job layoffs, and a record number of bad stories about its failing marketing efforts.

It didn’t have to be this way.

The actual attributes of many of the GM product lines are more appealing than the competition, but the product image itself is not. To own a GM car is to tell the world that you’re so 1970s, and since what you drive is considered an extension and expression of yourself to others, people end up buying cars they actually like less because they feel the cars will say something more about them.

Think about it. Here’s a company that was the first to develop a catalytic converter, the first to develop an advanced anti-tipping stabilization technology, the first to develop engines that could use all sorts of blended gasolines, and most importantly in today’s market, the creator of OnStar — an incredible new-age computerized safety and tracking device. Yet most American consumers have no idea that any of these valuable innovations came from General Motors, simply because GM decided not to tell them. So instead of using its latest and greatest emerging technology to align itself with its customers, GM finds itself in a deteriorating dialogue with shareholders. No alignment = no sales.

Another problem with GM: No one knew that the various brands under the GM moniker were in fact . . . GM. Even such well-known brands as Corvette and Cadillac had become disconnected from the parent company. Worse yet, all the various brands (with the exception of Hummer, which couldn’t get lost in a crowd even if the brand manager wanted it to) were using similar language, similar visuals, and a similar message — blurring the distinction between brands and turning GM vehicles into nothing more than generic American cars. Repeated marketing failures were just part of GM’s recurring problems, but as that issue was completely within their control, it should have been the easiest to address.

When products, services, and language are aligned, they gain another essential attribute: authenticity. In my own market research for dozens of Fortune 500 companies, I have found that the best way to communicate authenticity is to trigger personalization: Do audience members see themselves in the slogan . . . and therefore in the product? Unfortunately, achieving personalization is by no means easy.

To illustrate how companies and brands in a competitive space create compelling personas for themselves while addressing the needs of different consumer groups, let’s take a look at cereals. Anyone can go out and buy a box of cereal. But different cereals offer different experiences. Watch and listen carefully to their marketing approach and the words they use.

Most cereals geared toward children sell energy, excitement, adventure, and the potential for fun — even more than the actual taste of the sugar-coated rice or wheat puffs in the cardboard box. On the other hand, cereal aimed at grown-ups is sold based on its utility to the maintenance and enhancement of health — with taste once again secondary.

Children’s cereals are pitched by nonthreatening cartoon characters — tigers, parrots, chocolate-loving vampires, Cap’ns, and a tiny trio in stocking caps — never an adult or authority figure. Adult cereals come at you head-on with a not-so-subtle Food Police message, wrapped in saccharine-sweet smiles, exclaiming that this cereal is a favorite of healthy and cholesterol-conscious adults who don’t want to get colon cancer! Ugghhh. Kids buy Frosted Flakes because “They’re grrrreat!” Adults buy Special K because we want to be as attractive and vigorous as the actors who promote it. When it comes to cereal, about the only thing parents and kids have in common is that the taste matters only slightly more than the image, experience, and product association — and if the communication appears authentic, they’ll buy.

And cereal certainly sells. From Cheerios to Cinnamon Toast Crunch, more than $6 billion worth of cold cereal was sold in the United States alone in 2005. If you were to look at the five top-selling brands, you would see a diverse list targeted to a diverse set of customers. The language used for each of these five brands is noticeably different, but in all cases totally essential.

In looking at the first and third best-selling brands of cereal, one might initially think that only a slight variation in ingredients mark their distinctions. Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios are both based around the same whole-grain O shaped cereal, but are in fact two very different products, beyond the addition of honey and a nut-like crunch.

The language behind Cheerios is remarkably simple and all-encompassing — “The one and only Cheerios.” Could be for kids . . . could be for young adults . . . could be for parents. Actually, Cheerios wants to sell to all of them. As its Web site states, Cheerios is the right cereal for “toddlers to adults and everyone in between.” The subtle heart-shaped bowl on each box suggests to the older consumer that the “whole-grain” cereal is a healthy start to a healthy day. But the Web site also has a section devoted entirely to younger adults, complete with testimonials and “tips from new parents” talking about how Cheerios has helped them to raise happy, healthy children. The language behind Cheerios works because it transcends the traditional societal boundaries of age and adds a sense of authenticity to the product.

While you could probably live a happy and healthy existence with Cheerios as your sole cereal choice, there is a substantial segment of the cereal market that demands more. For the cereal-consuming public roughly between the ages of four and fourteen, a different taste and linguistic approach is required. Buzz the Bee, the kid-friendly mascot of Honey Nut Cheerios, pitches the “irresistible taste of golden honey,” selling the sweetness of the product to a demographic that craves sweet foods. While the parent knows that his or her child wants the cereal because of its sweet taste (as conveyed through the packaging), Honey Nut Cheerios must still pass the parent test. By putting such statements as “whole-grain” and “13 essential vitamins and minerals” on the box, the product gains authenticity, credibility, and the approval of the parent.

Two different messages on one common box effectively markets the same product to both children and parents alike, helping to make Honey Nut Cheerios the number three top-selling cereal in 2004. So with the addition of honey and nuts, General Mills, the producer of the Cheerios line, has filled the gap between toddlers and young adults, and completed the Cheerios cradle-to-grave lifetime hold on the consumer.

To take another example, if you want people to think you’re hip and healthy, you make sure they see you drinking bottled water — and the fancier the better. No one walking around with a diet Dr Pepper in hand is looking to impress anybody. These days, there’s almost a feeling that soft drinks are exclusively for kids and the uneducated masses. There’s a cache to the consumption of water, and expensive and exclusive brands are all the rage. Now, there may be a few people who have such extremely refined, educated taste buds that they can taste the difference between Dasani and Aquafina (I certainly can’t), but the connoisseurs of modish waters are more likely than not posers (or, to continue the snobbery theme, poseurs). You won’t see many people walking around Cincinnati or Syracuse clutching fancy bottled water. Hollywood, South Beach, and the Upper East Side of New York City are, as usual, another story.

There’s one final aspect of being the message that impacts what we hear and how we hear it. How our language is delivered can be as important as the words themselves, and no one understands this principle better than Hollywood.

At a small table tucked away in the corner of a boutique Italian restaurant on the outskirts of Beverly Hills, I had the opportunity to dine with legendary actors Charles Durning, Jack Klugman, and Dom DeLuise. The entire dinner was a litany of stories of actors, writers, and the most memorable movie lines ever delivered. (Says Klugman, an Emmy Award winner, “A great line isn’t spoken, it is delivered.”) Best known for his roles in The Odd Couple and Quincy, Klugman told a story about how Spencer Tracy was practicing his lines for a movie late in his career in the presence of the film’s screenwriter. Apparently not pleased with the reading, the writer said to Tracy, “Would you please pay more attention to how you are reading that line? It took me six months to write it,” to which Tracy shot back, “It took me thirty years to learn how to say correctly the line that took you only six months to write.”

Spencer Tracy knew how to be the message — and his shelf of Academy Awards proved it.

Excerpted from WORDS THAT WORK by Dr. Frank Luntz. Copyright 2007 Dr. Frank Luntz. All rights reserved. Published by Hyperion. Available wherever books are sold.

The "Lost" History of Kettlebells

The “lost” history of Kettlebells started as Russian counterweights in the common markets around 350 years ago. It was probably one bright sunny day, when a couple of young men in a small village in the eastern region of Komi started to test each other’s strength to see who would captivate the attention of the prettiest girl in the village. But at the time what they didn’t realize was that the imperial guards saw this and gathered around them and also wanted to prove themselves the strongest. As time passed and soldiers traveled from village to village, it became a competition between the army and the townspeople of who had the strongest man in the region. Then, when an Imperial Army General saw a competition one day while visiting a village with his troops, he saw it as a great opportunity to use it as a training regime for his soldiers. As time went by more people used Kettlebells as form of training and entertainment, so popular it became, that it was first published as the word girya (Kettlebell) in Russian dictionaries in 1704. The Kettlebell is still used today as part of the physical training for Russian troops.

As time went by no one really saw the great benefit of a daily Kettlebell workout, because it was generally only being used as a test to become a Bogatir, which are the extremely strong and honorable men from the towns and villages. Then Kettlebells gained open recognition as a great whole body workout tool, when they were featured in the fitness magazine Hercules in 1913. Once again in 1948, modern Kettlebell lifting became the Soviet Union’s national sport. In 1985, the committee of Kettlebell sport was organized and national rules, regulations and weight categories were set up.

As well as the Russian Army using Kettlebells to physically prepare their troops, The United States Secret Service & the FBI Counter Assault Team also require their agents to train high repetition, ballistic Kettlebell moves.

In 2001 it was reintroduced to America and the rest of the world by extraordinary trainer, Pavel Tsatsouline, who has designed a notorious Kettlebell workout program: Enter The Kettlebell. Pavel has a great passion for his workouts and his character is that of a Russian Army General, he motivates you and treats you like a comrade. Since then, the world of Kettlebells has been proven to be the most effective supplement to a full body conditioning workout today.

Play a Game With Large Playing Cards

There are a lot of different types of games that people use playing cards to play the game. If players want to do something unique, they can grab a deck of large playing cards and use those. These can be personalized in many different ways.

There are a lot of different games that people would love to play with a larger deck. Some people have game night once a week. This would be something different that they could throw into the mix.

Children may get a laugh out of it and think that they are cool. Adults may be able to play a joke on someone who is having another birthday. Elderly people often get jokes played on them about how they cannot see and such things as that.

These can be personalized with certain pictures or designs. The logos of businesses or organizations can be placed on these for advertising purposes. If it is a place that regularly uses these, they may order many of them and have their logo on everything that they order.

These are not going to be sold in a lot of places though. Every person who is going to be playing a certain game will have different ways that they will play the same game. As long as all of the players agree, it can be fun.

There are many different games that can be played using the bigger deck. Kids like them to play all of their children’s games. There are a lot of people that would like to have a larger deck to play with.

They would not be used in any kind of game that is a tournament or a contest that people would be playing to win a prize. It is important that these games have a standard deck. There are many cards that are made that are standard but a larger size may not be allowed in a card game.

There is no reason why it cannot be used as fun though. Family game night or a night at a friend’s house would allow for these to be used. Since these are made with a bigger card, they are going to have larger pictures and the print on them can be larger.

For someone who has a difficult time hanging on to the smaller cards, these make a good alternative. They can see them better and be able to get a grip on them. With these, they do not have to worry about dropping them or being able to see what card they are playing.

Dealing with these problems for anyone can cause the game to be frustrating for them. The bigger deck can relieve the stress from these things. A lot of people can benefit from these.

There are so many different things that people can put on these cards to personalize them. There are many designs that people use. Using someone’s creative side will help to make a good design. There is not going to be any wrong designs because they are going to be the person’s own unique deck.

Ordering these does not have to be difficult either. Everybody can design their own cards or they can use designs that are premade. Most people like the idea of being able to add pictures and logos though.

It can be a lot of fun to come up with a design. There will be a lot of different types of things that people can come up with. There does not have to be a specific picture though. Large playing cards can have many different solid colors along with a business logo or a phrase of some sort too.

Mononucleosis and EPO – Is There a Connection?

With all this fuss about the use of EPO in cycling in recent years and how laboratorial inject able EPO was practically undetectable until very recently (2003), plus how the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) and other Anti-Doping labs worldwide are suspicious that athletes are freely using performance enhancing drugs namely EPO; some officials are starting to openly vent their frustrations with the shortcomings (underfunding) of the aforementioned agencies.

With recent reports of several athletes contracting mononucleosis, I became curious and I decided to make a search on the internet to see if there was a possibility of a connection between EPO and mononucleosis and I found this startling report (excerpt below).

Author: Paul Schick, MD, Emeritus Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University Medical College; Research Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Drexel University College of Medicine:

“Pure Red Cell Aplasia

  • Respiratory infections, gastroenteritis, primary atypical pneumonia, infectious mononucleosis, mumps, and viral hepatitis may trigger pure red cell aplasia.
  • Importantly, note that EPO-related appears to be a rare complication when one considers that approximately 3 million patients are treated with EPO worldwide. Nevertheless, maintain awareness of the possibility of this complication. In 2002, Casadevall et al recommended that patients receiving EPO should be tested for neutralizing anti-EPO antibodies as soon as possible after the onset of an unexplained anemia.
  • Darbepoetin alfa (Aranesp) has recently been introduced and has a different carbohydrate structure than endogenous EPO. Patients receiving this agent should be monitored closely.
  • Obviously, the administration of EPO for athletic performance should be avoided. ” http://www.emedicine.com/med/topic1967.htm

“- Medical side effects

EPO commonly “thickens” blood which causes additional circulatory strain as well as damming (clotting) in smaller blood vessels. EPO use is dangerous as it stresses elements in the circulation and quite often is sufficient to precipitate systemic failures that otherwise would function normally under natural levels of stress.”

http://coachsci.sdsu.edu/csa/vol56/fourdrug.htm

“What are the side-effects of EPO misuse?

· While proper use of EPO has an enormous therapeutic benefit in the treatment of anaemia related to cancer or kidney disease, its misuse can lead to serious health risks for athletes who use this substance simply to gain a competitive edge. It is well known that EPO, by thickening the blood, leads to an increased risk of several deadly diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and cerebral or pulmonary embolism. The misuse of recombinant human EPO may also lead to autoimmune diseases with serious health consequences.”

http://www.wada-ama.org/en/dynamic.ch2?pageCategory.id=626

Does this mean, if you have mononucleosis that you have used EPO? No, it could be viral, but if you are an athlete, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) and other Anti-Doping labs worldwide will have their red flags waving for months!

With this information, I became concerned, because if there are any tennis players out there, champions, champions to be or not champions, before they even think about using EPO, they should be aware of the consequences.

Why risk your life for a medal, a cup or a few dollars more? Players and athletes, just say NO and stay away from EPO! Your health and your life is more important to all of us then if you win.

Yours truly

Sergio Cruz

Online Casino – Look Out For the Advantages

With the emergence of the online casino, people do not have to fly or drive to a faraway casino to play their favored games. Changing times and new innovations resulted in the growth and popularity of the internet casinos these days. Considering the present scenario, the online casino has developed as the most entertaining and enticing means to check out a number of popular casino games under one roof.

Gone are those days when you had to plan for a holiday or vacation to travel to a location like New Jersey or Las Vegas popular for offering the excitement of real casinos. However, it is obvious that while planning a holiday, you had to put aside your official commitments. It is more likely that traveling frequently leaving behind all your assignments may not be possible always.

The introduction of the internet casino or more popularly the online casino eliminates a lot of hassles for the gamers making it much more easy for them to reach out their favorite game at any time and at any place. Additionally, you do not require to travel all the way to any brick and mortar casino to play your casino game. Having a computer with internet connectivity can put an end to all these problems.

Casino online gives you access to a lot of gambling sites on the internet. If you’re 21 (the considered legal age of gambling) then you are ready to start with the online casino games. You should know that playing at any online casino site brings about a lot of advantages for the players.

Having a look on the major advantages of the online casinos will help you to know why this means of gambling has grown so popular. Why is it the most preferred option for most casino players worldwide? Well, in the following lines you will come across the most common advantages that online gambling brings you forward. These include

Playing at your convenience:

One of the main features of casino online that makes most gaming lovers to turn to gambling online is that the internet forms to be the most convenient medium these days. The online casino forms to be an essential way allowing more and more players to gamble with ease from their own residence. Till you’re connected to the internet, you can play your favored casino games 24×7. You just have to enter a site and get started with your chosen casino games.

Promotion and bonuses

The online gambling bonuses prove to be the most attractive options to select playing online. You will never be finding these kinds of options in any brick and mortar casino. Presently, you are offered a range of bonuses like deposit match bonus, sign up bonus or welcome bonus, no deposit bonus ad cash back bonus. These promotions can be a great way to attract more and more new players and hold on to the existing players as well. With bonuses, the players can easily increase the bankroll as they have much more cash in hand to bet.

More choice of casinos

With the internet casinos, you will get a choice of more casinos at a time. You can even switch over to one site to another as it depends solely on your wish.

Convenient and easy withdrawal and deposit options:

Online casinos brings you a lot of banking options to make your selection. Many online casino sites accept Master and Visa credit cards for both withdrawal and deposit purposes. Other popular options available include wire transfer, NeTeller, myCitadel, Moneybookers, Entropay and others.